Watersports | Cayman Islands
Cayman's constant sunshine, deserted beaches and warm seas create ideal conditions for almost any water sport. Blogger, avid kite surfer and all-round water woman, Maya Lewis, shares her favourite on-island water-based activities.
Words by Maya Lewis.
Cayman offers world-class conditions for kite surfing. It's windy almost every day from November right through to April and it’s one of the best places in the world to learn. The kite surfing on offer is the sort that most people will only dream about, or drool over in a magazine - turquoise clear waters and peroxide white sands. Even on a busy day, you’ll only find 20-30 kites out on the water at any one time. Welcome to paradise!
The main spot in Cayman is on Barkers Beach in West Bay. This deserted beach sees very little action other than on windy days when the prevailing winds make for ideal cross onshore conditions in flat, waist-deep water. Days like these see the local kite community flocking along the dirt road through the national park and kiting until they can kite no more. The nicest thing about Barkers is the community, a “family” of locals that help each other out and make friends with tourists or beginners taking up the sport. The other place to kite surf the prevailing north-easterly winds during the winter months is out at East End. The same sort of kiting conditions apply – warm, flat, shallow...bliss! If you're looking for your own private playground, this is it, as not that many people make the ‘long’ drive east.
Kitesurf Cayman, run by ex-pro Jhon, is based at Barkers Beach. Jhon is one of the most patient people on the planet and offers the highest level of teaching, promising to get you up and riding at the end of a short course (three two-hour lessons). It’s heaven for beginners with shallow water 100m from the beach and a rescue boat to keep you feeling safe even when you’re further out towards the reef.
A common misconception about kite surfing is that it requires a huge amount of physical strength – it doesn’t. It requires an appreciation of the wind, similar to sailing, and core balance, but the rest is just general fitness. Women, men, girls and boys of all ages, shapes and sizes can enjoy it.
What’s not to love about skimming across the surface of the sea at speed? Wake boarding is fun and invigorating. Once you’ve mastered the basics you can start working on turns, jumps and tricks – there’s always more to learn.
You want calm water for wake boarding, so Seven Mile Beach is usually ideal. First thing in the morning is the best time to catch tranquil conditions on the North Sound. There truly is no better way to watch the sunrise.
SWS Cayman has a top of the range boat and extremely knowledgeable instructors who can teach wakeboarding, waterskiing,
wake surfing (the newest craze that’s taking over) and fly boarding. They also offer boat charters and can pick up from anywhere on Seven Mile Beach for true 5-star service.
Paddle Boarding is comparatively easy to learn. It’s a more relaxed activity and requires very little set up or man power, but is no less of a mind and body workout.
Anywhere there’s water, but the calm conditions off Seven Mile Beach are best for beginners.
My friend Kiristen of Vitamin Sea is a true master of the sport and has been teaching SUP for years. Once you’ve got your balance sorted and mastered the basics, there are fitness classes you can do out on the water. Maintaining stability while standing on the board adds to the challenge and is a great core strengthener. Try Paddle Fit, a modified gym routine on a paddle board, or SUP yoga. There’s something so serene about listening to the water lap the bottom of your board and watching turtles paddle by as you stretch out into your downward dog. And, if everything gets a little sweaty or wobbly, you have the world’s most amazing swimming pool to fall into!
Feel the need for speed? Jet skiing will give you that and more. It requires nerves of steel more than buns of steel, so high levels of fitness and prior experience are NOT required.
The waters off Seven Mile Beach offer great conditions for jet skiing, with plenty of places to stop for a breather or a dip in the sea.
Red Sail Sports rent personal watercraft, with instruction provided. They also organise daily guided jet ski safaris: four adrenaline-fuelled hours of adventure that take you whizzing across the North Sound, or along Seven Mile Beach, stopping at the best snorkel sites for a spot of wildlife viewing. They also offer wakeboarding, jet skiing, parascending and banana boating to keep the thrills coming.
If you want to get up close and personal with the native sea life, then scuba diving in the Cayman Islands is some of the best in the world.
The best is off the shores of Little Cayman but the shore diving, wall diving and wreck diving on Grand Cayman is not to be sniffed at.
For newcomers to the sport, there are numerous dive companies on the island, including Don Foster's Dive based in Casuarina Point on South Church Street, just south of George Town. They offer complete two-day PADI courses or taster dives, which include basic skills and a shallow dive to give you a feel for the wonders to be found under the sea.
There’s no doubt that spending time in proximity to water can improve our general health by increasing our sense of calm, reducing anxiety and improving our performance.
So what are you waiting for?
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